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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - LONDON — China's President Xi Jinping will travel to Moscow next week to hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, officials say.
The Kremlin said they would discuss a "comprehensive partnership and strategic co-operation".
The visit comes as Beijing, an ally of Russia, has offered proposals to end the war in Ukraine, to which the West has given a lukewarm reception.
Western countries have warned Beijing against supplying Moscow with weapons.
Beijing's foreign ministry said Mr Xi will be in Russia from 20 to 22 March at the invitation of Mr Putin.
A number of "important bilateral documents" are expected to be signed.
In a message posted on Twitter on Friday, ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said it will be a trip "for friendship and peace".
"On the basis of no-alliance, no-confrontation and no-targeting of any third party, China and Russia have been promoting greater democracy in international relations," she said.
She added that China would uphold "an objective and fair position" on the war in Ukraine and "play a constructive role in promoting talks for peace".
In February, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he wanted to meet Xi Jinping to discuss Beijing's proposal.
"I really want to believe that China will not supply weapons to Russia," he said.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has previously said - a claim denied by China.
US media reported on Friday that Mr Xi will speak virtually with Mr Zelensky after his visit to Russia, but this is yet to be confirmed.
China has thus far resisted Ukraine's lobbying for a meeting between Xi and Zelensky, even though Beijing confirmed on Friday that China's leader is to visit Moscow next week.
In an interview with the BBC before Xi's visit was announced, Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said his president was ready for a telephone conversation with Xi.
He added: "I don't think China has reached the moment now... when it's ready to arm Russia. Nor do I think that this visit will result in peace... The visit to Moscow in itself is a message but I don't think it will have any immediate consequences."
The message, Kuleba said, was "that China and Russia are very close, close enough for the Chinese leader to visit his Russian counterpart, who is not doing very well.
"And I think this is the message to the entire world, to the West but also most importantly, to the non-West, that Russia is not alone, that China is talking to them."
But the Ukrainian foreign minister added that Russia would have preferred more support from China.
"Russia was looking for a different position of China since the beginning of the invasion. Russia did not get what it wants. Our understanding also is that Russia is becoming more and more dependent on China. So it's very complex."
Asked about a report that the Ukrainian leader is set to talk to Mr Xi for the first time since Russia invaded, a US National Security Council spokesman said it would be "a very good thing if the two of them talk".
"We support and have supported" contact, John Kirby said.
Meanwhile, China's foreign minister on Thursday urged Kyiv and Moscow to restart peace talks "as soon as possible".
In a phone call, Qin Gang told Kuleba that Beijing hopes "all parties will keep calm, exercise restraint, resume peace talks as soon as possible and return to the track of political settlement".
Kuleba said they discussed the "significance of the principle of territorial integrity" and Zelensky's "Peace Formula for ending the aggression and restoring just peace in Ukraine". — BBC
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